Summary: Steps to forgiveness - learning to "let it go".
INTRO – Forgive & Forget?
Illustration – I recall learning a lesson at summer camp as a young boy. I didn’t have much spending money to take with me. One of my few, inexpensive enjoyments was a box of mini-chiclets. One particular day I had bought a packet, and after chewing a few, I placed the remainder under my pillow on my cabin bed. Later that day I went to get my chiclets and discovered that the box was gone. As I was leaving the cabin, a boy walked by me holding a box of chiclets, and giving me a “what are you going to do about it” look.
Of course this was a disaster, and my camp counselor saw how down I was. I eventually told him what had happened. He said to me, “We just need to teach him a lesson don’t we?”
THIS WAS HIS PLAN:
He bought me TWO boxes of chiclets and told me to find the boy and share one package with him!
I asked my counselor, “Aren’t you going to punish him”?
The counselor explained, “No, that would only make him mad at you”.
Of course I protested, “But he’s a thief.” The Counselor replied, “I know. But try it... see what happens.”
I reluctantly tried what he said, and before the week was over, the little thief had become my best buddy! In fact, he bought me chiclets every day! THAT WEEK I LEARNED THE IMPORTANCE, AND THE BENEFITS OF FORGIVENESS!!!
Ephes. 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
This is not always an easy process – obstacles may face us when we attempt to practice forgiveness . . .
I. REMOVE THE MISCONCEIVED STUMBLING BLOCKS
A. Justifying or Explaining Away Someone’s Behavior is Not the Same as Forgiving
B. Time Heals All Wounds
Illustration – We may think we can adopt that little childhood saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, But words will never hurt me” – This simply isn’t true! Wounds from sticks and stones most often heal --- words wound the soul, and sometimes people never recover.
C. Putting Up a False Defense – Acting as Though We Were Not Hurt
II. THE STEPS OF FORGIVENESS
A. Realize That We Have Had Undeserved Forgiveness - Ephes. 2:8-9 (NKJV)
1. To do otherwise is hypocrisy – We see the account in . . . Matthew 18:23-35 (NIV)
a. Critical to His forgiveness is our willingness to forgive - Mark 11:25-26 (NKJV)
B. Matthew 18:35 - Forgive "from the heart"
1. In this we see a critical issue – The Need to Mentally And Emotionally Release the Hurt or Debt
2. How do you forgive “from your heart”?
a. What is the heart biblically speaking? The seat of emotions - a mental release
3. Let’s face it – We are kidding ourselves if we say that we have forgiven, but we continue to remember the issue with bitterness! YOU HAVE TO LET IT GO!!!!
C. Be Willing to Accept the Person’s Response or Lack of Response
1. Forgiveness is not expecting compensation or reward - Micah 6:8
2. If our forgiveness toward others hinges on their response – we will ride an emotional roller coaster!
D. View Our Experiences with Others as Tools of Growth
1. Joseph was able to do so, and as a result God could use him mightily! - Genesis 50:19-20
E. Make Reconciliation
1. In person if possible
2. In our hearts DEFINITELY
a. The Lord’s promise - Matthew 5:7
b. The physical results of unforgiveness - Proverbs 11:17
c. Who is the real prisoner when we choose unforgiveness???? You are!
d. Leads to a root of bitterness – destructive – affects you, and your relationships - Ephes. 4:31 (NIV)
F. Develop a Lifestyle that Imparts Forgiveness - Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV)
CONCLUSION – We will know we have forgiven when:
1. Our negative feelings and bitterness leaves
2. Our concerns for the real needs of others outweighs our concern for the wrong they have done